How Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Trial Attorneys Use Images and Videos to Make Cases

As personal injury and wrongful death attorneys practicing primarily in Virginia and North Carolina, we constantly innovate in techniques for delivering to jurors vital information about the cause, nature and severity of injuries. Often, highly technical information and complex details must be communicated in ways that everyone can understand. Using images and videos enables that.

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Presenting evidence at trial is, in many ways, like teaching a lesson in a classroom. It is possible to simply lecture, droning on about facts and not pausing to explain abstract concepts or define unfamiliar terms. But that bores jurors even when it does not leave them wondering what they were supposed to learn.

Like teachers long ago discovered, we have recognized that creating high-quality visual aids helps jurors absorb and process information. We must still comment extensively on the posters, PowerPoint slides and digital videos, but seeing what we are talking about makes our arguments more compelling and convincing.

Showing jurors the evidence we have seen—X-rays and MRIs, diagrams from police reports, financial statements and medical bills—also conveys the sense that we consider them knowledge and reasoning adults who can spot patterns, draw connections and reach independent conclusions. They do not need to told what to think, and they should not be denied access to key facts.

Here are some of the types of visual aids we have employed during civil trials over car and truck accidents, medical malpractice, railroad worker injuries, slips and fall, and injuries from dangerous and defective products.

Animations and Interactive Exhibits

Showing an MRI or CAT scan as a rotating 3-D image that can be sectioned and enlarged does much to illustrate exactly what happened to a client. Similarly, allowing jurors to handle a medical model of a brain or internal organ gets them thinking about the damage inflicted by a defendant’s negligence or recklessness.

Day-in-the-Life Videos

Defense teams often seek judges’ permission to show videos of injury victims on vacation, doing yardwork, shopping or playing with their children that “prove” the injuries were not serious or disabling. Shooting such videos is legal when a plaintiff is out in public. But defense teams are allowed to edit the footage any way they want, and they often do not present anything close to a fair and accurate depiction of how the injured person actually lives.

My personal injury and wrongful death law firm colleagues and I counter inaccurate defense team videos with true footage of our clients choking down dozens of pills, struggling to make it from the bed to the bathroom and becoming frustrated by even the simplest of tasks like remembering their loved one’s names.

In one case, we hired a professional videographer to record our client’s activities throughout the day prior to a complicated spinal disc repair surgery, during a day of post-operative care in the hospital and on the day that he returned home. The videographer asked a few questions we scripted, but most of the footage was unscripted. The resulting mini documentary proved very important for securing a positive outcome for that client.

PowerPoint Presentations

We have found comparing and contrasting quotes from the experts we bring in to analyze evidence and from the experts hired by defense teams. Aligning the statements with actual medical records and other objective facts creates quite an impression.

EJL

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia